Up On a Pedestal

Throughout our lives we have seasons in which we get put on some sort of pedestal. Built up in the mind of at least one other into something that we are not. Children put their parents on a pedestal. Spouses put each other on a pedestal. Congregations put their pastors high up on a pedestal. Truth is, this feels good. When we are the center of the kingdom, when the world is revolving around us, it builds up our sense of significance. It is easy to build an identity on what people think of us – having our sense of self and value reflected back to us by those we surround our self with. But when my feeling of being worth loving comes from the validation of others – it is a trap. Then you have to behave a certain way and project a certain image in order to gain the approval. The approval becomes an idol. It must be served. It takes work to stay on the pedestal. Know why pastors fall? Their focus became the pedestal rather than being centered in Jesus. Know why marriages fail? At least one spouse’s focus is on their pedestal. Serving self over serving the other. Know why peer pressure is so effective? It is all about having a pedestal to be put on. Jesus was put on a pedestal. Lauded by the crowds. Followed by thousands. Approval like that would certainly be a temptation. But Jesus was centered in the Father. From that position of submission and oneness, Jesus had his identity and purpose. Despite being on the pedestal, He maintained...

The Reflected Sense of Self

The Bible is truth. It cannot be minimized into a user manual for life. Nor it is a guide for a more prosperous life. To say it is a science book would also be a mistake. It is the truth about our relationship with God. Man’s search for significance and God’s desire to impart it to us.   It is with that belief that a passage in the book of James helped me shed light on a psychological concept that I just became aware of: the reflected sense of self.   We all want significance and will try to find it in Christ or outside of Christ. When we seek it outside of Christ, we form what spiritual theologians call the false self. An identity that allows us to define our significance. Yet, while we would call ourselves free, in reality it is the opposite of the freedom that God intends for us.   One of the ways that we experience this bondage is that the false self must be continually propped up in order to be convinced of its significance. We become a slave to securing our identity. Significance requires comparison, so the false self attempts to define who we are in relation to others. Among others, the question “what do others think of me?” becomes of paramount importance as we attempt to feed the false identity outside of Christ.   This is where we pick up with the idea of the reflected sense of self – that out of our own lack we take on the emotions that are reflected to us by others. It is as if we...

What is Acceptance?

So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. – Matthew 22:10 The king had sent out a save the date announcement about his son’s upcoming wedding. Preparations were made and time went by, but the invited were to keep their eyes open and be ready. When all was set, the king sent word…and none of the invited came. So, Matthew 22:10 above tells of the king’s next command to his servants being executed – go and invite anyone you can find. Good and bad, they were brought in and the wedding hall was filled. This is a picture of a God who meets us where we are; He demonstrates acceptance. As part of the character of God, acceptance is then supposed to become part of our demonstrated character. Because of both our pride and the culture we live in, we get confused about what acceptance is. Acceptance is not to be confused with approval. Approval calls brokenness wholeness. It redefines the terms, and creates a man-based standard. It is simply doing what is right in our own eyes, and is a way to try to create wholeness apart from God. Approval of brokenness is a product of the false self. Because of the inherent worth we all have a image bearers of God, every person merits being accepted by followers of Christ and those that lead them. But, we are each in a broken state. When we accept another we understand that person is broken and is...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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